Patrol needs extra funds

Ms McAtackney said the group, which provides day and night intervention for indigenous people frequenting public spaces, was best equipped with the knowledge on how to deal with the issues of people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system due to various social and welfare issues.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Hall said recently that homeless people and Aboriginal people were overrepresented in the criminal justice system ” both as offenders and victims.

‘The criminal justice system is being used to solve a problem, which is a social problem,’ Justice Hall said.

The Nyoongar Patrol scouts Midland’s streets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11.30am to 6.30pm, and in the Perth CBD on weekends, particularly targeting the CBD, Midland Oval, parks and the Midland Gate shopping centre.

The service used to patrol Midland five days a week before the funding was cut.

The issue of shared responsibility between the three tiers of government and who should pay for patrol services has never been resolved.

The Nyoongar Patrol is now primarily reliant on the WA Department of Indigenous Affairs for funding. Without it, the patrols would not function.

The State Government pledged almost $900,000 to fund the Noongar Patrol before the last State election, to be injected into the Midland area over the next four years.

Last September, the Nyoongar Patrol’s Neville Collard told more than 250 residents at a community forum in Midland Town Hall that the entire community needed to work together to support the service. He even pushed City of Swan Mayor Charlie Zannino to persuade the council to support the patrols so they could be returned to five days a week.

Despite the call, the City of Swan has labelled the issues of anti-social behaviour a State responsibility.

According to a recent City of Perth report, complaints of anti-social behaviour and drinking in Wellington Square have been ongoing since 1910, even when an exclusion zone was in force from 1927 to 1954.

People from rural and remote communities visiting Perth, often in need of medical treatment, congregate there with city dwellers who may be affected by substance misuse.

Failing to observe move-on notices issued by police often leads to indigenous people slipping into the dangerous circle of the criminal justice system.

Ms McAtackney said Wellington Square would always be a meeting place for Aboriginal people.

‘There is no overnight solution. There needs to be a long-term solution but no one has taken the lead,’ she said.